The commodity supercycle which started in the early 2000s, saw the prices of physical commodities such as food, metals, fuel and chemicals rise as demand from emerging markets outstripped demand. A slowing global economy has recently seen a rapid slide of commodity prices, having severe impacts on global economic markets, job security and emerging market currencies.
A commodity is defined by something of demand that is independent of differentiation, from the French word commodite – amenity or convenience. The next booming demand in the economy is going to be people’s attention.
As the workforce has evolved from the traditional “hands on” approach, more people today work with the management of information. If you’ve ever heard your boss say, “Why aren’t you at your computer?” that’s testament to the fact. Yet, information is abundant – about our lives, on social networks, other’s lives on news channels, and our professions, in all the Exabytes of data available through the internet.
But by harnessing the attention of an audience through engaging content, the flow of attention to something online will anticipate the subsequent flow of money. It’s a very important commodity for brands to understand and appreciate, both when they are receiving audience attention, and when they are not.
The online experience you have online is different to your colleagues. Your browsing history, behaviour on websites and the way you search for content creates a digital fingerprint, unique to you, that’s valuable to brands. If you’re not yet already aware of it, your attention is currently being sold. The banners you see, or rather, don’t see, are tailored just for you.
“Attention is the hard currency of cyberspace,” wrote Thomas Mandel and Gerard Van der Leun all those years back in their 1996 book Rules of the Net. We find ourselves in a time when engaging content fights for our attention, and where we choose to spend it, matters financially to the brands generating the content you enjoy and share.
Immediacy, personalisation and authenticity are three metrics that form the foundation of attracting attention and keeping it. Moving beyond the visual realm of display banners to rich content stimulating the senses and emotions is key to growing with the audiences maturing demands of the web.
It’s rather interesting how opportunity cost has now not just got a place in our careers and big decisions in life, but in the everyday minutes of time spent online. The gauntlet for brands has been set!